When Simon Met Sucklord

Episode 1: Seeing Simon interact with the Sucklord is Bravotv.com's Assistant Editor's new happy place.

Before we begin, I have to take a moment to share what may be Bravo's most brilliant commercial yet:

If that doesn't get you pumped for Season 2, nothing will. Well on second thought, hearing Simon de Pury say "Sucklord"over and over again is truly a delight (much like hearing Simon say just about anything).

In any event, this season's got me stoked! And since a picture (or a sculpture, or some "visceral tableaux") is worth a thousand words, I'll be using some of our artists' work to help sum up what we've seen each week.

work-of-art-season-2-gallery-introductioRight off the bat, we're introduced to the fourteen artists via their self-portraits. Michelle does some really amazing sculpture with paper, Kathryn's gaga for gore, Bayete argues with himself about whether or not to be on the show... and then there's the Sucklord. Yep, that's his name, and we'll try not to wear it out (no promises). Lest you get the idea that he's some sort of evil super villain (as I suppose his self-portrait might suggest), check out this unseen footage of him breaking bread pineapple with Tewz. Clearly there's a softer side to the Sucklord.


Tewz's mad scientist froggy Frankenstein creation is the perfect piece to encapsulate the challenge of transforming kitshcy bad art into a gallery-worthy piece. (So kudos to you, Tewz.) While I'm glad there was the expected dogs-playing-cards painting, I really find those weird, 3-D pieces that have yarn hair really creepy. Creepier though was how Dusty managed to seemlessly swap out that clown's face for his own. We also had the first round of tears when Lola broke down about her lack of direction. More to come (feel free to go back to the previous page for a refresher)!work-of-art-season-2-gallery-rate-the-woIn the end, Michelle snuck off with the win much like Lola made off with those birds in Jazz-Minh's painting. The paper sculpting she does is really impressive, but it will be interesting to see what else she can do. And alas, the incredibly dreamy French artist who stole the heart of basically anyone with eyes (and ears -- that accent!), Ugo, was sent packing for his uninspired piece. I wonder if he would have been the one to go home had he removed that red background? Coulda, woulda, shoulda I suppose...

Next week the artists make Simon angry. And you won't like Simon when he's angry.

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An Alternate Universe

Bill loved that Kymia's exhibit brought viewers to a new world.

I remember last year questioning why rock stars receive standing ovations. Athletes, ballet dancers, and actors, too, but where is the applause for artists? Now I know this might sound hypocritical coming from a guy who told Sucklord that Mr. Brainwash after a lobotomy would have made more compelling street art, but I really do mean it. I could never withstand the pressure cooker these artists subjected themselves to by participating on Work of Art, and I commend each of them on their bravery. 

I told Young during the finale crits that his installation reminded me how we all live three lives: our public life, our private life, and our secret life. His projected biography interweaving Korean family traditions with his first generation experience as a proud gay man was about as all American as it gets. Seeing him pay tribute to his late father echoed a famous quote from Ayn Rand about our mortality when she said, "It's not I who shall die, but the world which will end." Now that I think about it, the same sentiment probably applies to reality TV competitions. In Young's case, he mined his father's death for all the material he could get, and it rang out as personal, political, and (like Kymia's show) semi-mythological. It's a tough tightrope to tread on the path to universal appeal and the abyss of the generic is a bottomless pit. 

Sara hinted at some of her personal struggles with the mattress full of hypodermic needles of which KAWS remarked, "It kind of makes bedbugs seem inviting." She also constructed a barrier of handwritten fears hung on a makeshift clothesline blocking your entrance into her show, a limbo stick of self-doubt every gallery viewer was forced to overcome. I had hoped Sara would embrace her mesmerizing approach to watercolors, which garnered so much attention during the season from her very first gallery show of the woman being slow-roasted to the sellout challenge where her portraits did gangbusters. In my head I envisioned Sarah painting massive canvases highlighting her signature style. 

When Kymia followed that impulse for her finale show, look at the results. Wow! Aliens, twins, ancient Egyptians -- Kymia created a whole alternate universe with its own unknowable history. I urge everyone to go check out her exhibition in person when it opens at The Brooklyn Museum. How cool that her work will be hanging in the same building as Eva Hesse and Alice Neel.

As for Season 3? We will have to see if our Work of Art worked for Bravo. Otherwise I hope we might be remembered as the Arrested Development of reality TV. I'll miss you guys!


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